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Proliferation of Trade Associations—The Direct Marketing Evolution Part 7

August 13, 2013 By Heather Fletcher
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[Editor's Note: This is the seventh article in an eight-part, weekly series.]

Quick! How many of these do you recognize? AAAA, AAF, ACMA, AMA, ANA, DMA, IAB, NRF and SEMPO.

Did you think I just had trouble clearing my throat? Or did you recognize all of those as trade associations that serve marketers?

In a way, what’s happened with trade associations during the past decade mirrors what’s happened with content marketing. (Check out Part 5 of this series to see how.) Once mighty organizations have been brought to their knees, niche associations sprang up, previous enemies partnered or even merged, and upstarts became powerhouses.

It’s not quite fragmentation (Part 2 of this series), but it does feel Darwinian. Sure, some of the legacy organizations are shrinking and some of the upstarts are growing, but they’re all being measured by how relevant they are to their members. If they’re producing results, direct marketers keep them around. What a coincidence, right? That sounds identical to how direct marketers measure themselves.

New vs. Old
Social media marketing is the perfect example of an opportunity for a new professional association. At Target Marketing, we think of social media as a direct marketing channel. However, there are still some “traditional” marketers who think SMM either lacks a clear call to action or ROI, and a few “digital” marketers who think social media should lack a CTR and ROI and be completely about communications. There’s also a chance that newer marketers don’t know that older organizations, such as the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), cover that discipline. (Or they just think their discipline should have a standalone association, etc.)

 

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